Monday, 1 May 2017

Intelligence And Technology

Human beings are differentiated by their intelligence and by their use of technology. Clearly, these are two complementary aspects of a single differentia. Intelligence creates technology.

People, and their pre-human ancestors, have acted on and changed their natural environments with hands and brains. All technology, from spears and pens to factories and computers, is a set of artificial extensions of hands and brains. Intelligence, located in the brain, is applied to thought about the environment primarily in a practical attempt to change it; only secondarily in abstract reflection and contemplation, contra Plato. See here. Disembodied consciousnesses contemplating abstractions are in Plato's ideal realm but not in our empirical realm.

In science fiction:

many authors speculate about the course and consequences of technological innovations;
Artificial Intelligence is a technology that might not extend but supercede human brains;
intelligence ceases to be dampened in Poul Anderson's Brain Wave;
technology begins to be dampened in SM Stirling's Emberverse series.

Thus, Anderson and Stirling directly address not only technology but also these two complementary aspects of humanity.

Is a real quest for a sword of power plausible after an event like Stirling's Change? By a "real quest," I mean one that is not just imagined but really is instigated by a vision and a Voice? It depends on the nature of the Change. What or who caused this event? I must continue to read the series and also maybe reread some earlier passages.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And in his chilling short story "The High Ones" we see an alien non human race which came to REJECT being intelligent.

I think it's simpler to say that in Stirling's Emberverse books we see him mixing elements of fantasy alongside hard SF. Far more so than what was seen in his Nantucket series.